While media focuses it’s reporting about digital conference NOAH on #escortgate and Daimler executive Dieter Zetsche’s sneakers, I was surprised to see how close old and new economy already are. Executives from the old economy are wearing sneakers and startup founders wear button down shirts instead of hoodies. Everybody is chit chatting about investments, exits and the excellent Berlin weather.
Also Rocket Internet founder Oliver Samwer seems like he has grown up. He is still sarcastic, but more in a charming than an insulting way and speaks in average speed. While Rocket Internet was the only German player able to compete with US-funded companies he admits there are new founders emerging that are able to reach his requirements and by that get funding from him.
At wednesday night’s party you could literally see how digital businesses are integrated into the meat world: Many eye-catching ladies were hanging around – obviously not startup founders, executives or investors, but escorts from Berlin based startup Ohlala. During the day many panels were focused on food, batteries or mattresses.
The featured panel in the evening was presented like clash of the titans: Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche vs. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Unfortunately they presented themselves more as cuddly kittens than fighting tigers. “We are frenemies” was everything Zetsche said about a possible competition. While Daimler is worth around 64 bilion Euros, Uber is valued at 60 billion Euros – and part of that valuation is an investment done by the world’s most valuable car maker Toyota. Daimler was not planning to invest into Uber, but just recently bought German MyTaxi and invested into limousine service Blacklane.
Kalanick’s talk focused on Uber’s benefits: Less traffic jams, less emissions, no parking problems. Zetsche talked about Daimler’s engineering excellence and the upcoming trend of self-driving cars. And when you take that thought, Daimler is about to offer the same things as Uber: Less traffic jams, less emissions, no parking problems. Of course it will take politicians worldwide quite some time to figure out the regulations part, but we can already see the sun rising.
The whole talk was more a racing duel than a boxing match. When asked which company will be bigger in the future Mr. Daimler just answered:
“Maybe we are one company in 15 years.”
And exactly this sentence could have been the motto of the event: While we were still fighting each other some years ago, startups and corporates are building alliances today to create new values for our customers.